Frozen Four semifinal: UMD vs. Notre Dame

The NCAA Frozen Four semifinals are set for April 7 at St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center, and it is the WCHA vs. the CCHA on ESPN2:

No. 9-ranked Minnesota Duluth (24-10-6) vs. No. 11 Notre Dame (25-13-5), 4 p.m.

No. 2 North Dakota (32-8-3) vs. No. 5 Michigan (28-10-4), 7:30 p.m.

The Division I title game is 6 p.m., April 9 on ESPN.

On Sunday, Notre Dame defeated New Hampshire 2-1 for the Mideast Regional title in Manchester, N.H.

North Dakota beat Denver 6-1 for the Midwest Regional title in Green Bay.

UMD and Notre Dame are 1-1-1 the last three meetings. Notre Dame won 3-1 on Jan. 3, 2009 in Hoffman Estates, Ill., in the Shilelagh Tournament. UMD opened the 2004-05 season in South Bend, Ind., with a 2-2 tie and 4-1 win over Notre Dame on Oct. 7-8, 2004.

And here’s something interesting from the American Hockey League’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers. After three East Regional games in Webster Bank Arena over two days, the ice was deemed unplayable Sunday. Here is a release:

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (Mar. 27, 2011) – Due to the poor ice conditions following this weekend’s NCAA men’s hockey contests, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and the American Hockey League have postponed this afternoon’s game against the Syracuse Crunch. The game against the Syracuse Crunch will be played tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m. Tomorrow’s game will be free to all Sound Tigers fans. All fans with a ticket to this afternoon’s game can redeem them at the Webster Bank Arena box office for a ticket to any remaining Sound Tigers home game this season, or seek a refund through the Webster Bank Arena Box Office or Ticketmaster.

Sunday in the NCAA

Minnesota Duluth gained the NCAA East Regional title about 9:15 p.m. EDT Saturday in Bridgeport, Conn., and was back in Duluth about 1:30 a.m. CDT Sunday. It was clear sailing on a charter flight for the Bulldogs.

Next up — in the 2011 Frozen Four at St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center — is an April 7 semifinal meeting with No. 13-ranked New Hampshire or No. 11 Notre Dame. Semifinal game times are 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and will be assigned after the final two teams qualify Sunday.

Notre Dame (24-13-5) faces New Hamshire (22-10-6) at 7 p.m. Sunday on ESPNU in Manchester, N.Y., in the Northeast Regional final.

In the Midwest Regional final at 4:30 p.m. Sunday in Green Bay, No. 2 North Dakota (31-8-3) plays No. 7 Denver (25-11-5) on ESPNU.

An undetermined number of all-session Frozen Four tickets, likely a few hundred, will be available sometime early this week through the UMD ticket office, said athletic director Bob Nielson. They will sell for $195 for three games. The UMD ticket office number is (218) 726-8595. A link to the ticket office on the school website is here.

Ticket brokers like StubHub may have tickets here.

The NCAA lists the Frozen Four as sold out but the NCAA ticket site is here.

The Frozen Four semifinal games are on ESPN2 and the title game April 9 on ESPN. Semifinal teams have a break of a week until the Frozen Four starts.

No. 9 UMD toppled No. 1 Yale University of New Haven, Conn., the East Regional host playing just 20 minutes from campus, 5-3 in the title game at Webster Bank Arena. Although, technically not at home, Yale had been 17-1-1 at home this season.

Recaps of the UMD-Yale game:

The News Tribune has Brett Groehler and Associated Press photos here and a story here.

The New Haven Register here.

The Connecticut Post of Bridgeport here and here.

College Hockey News here and here.

U.S. College Hockey Online here and here.

Inside College Hockey here.

UMD radio voice Bruce Ciskie has some thoughts here.

The NCAA website has an update here.

In the Midwest Regional, North Dakota eliminated Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute of the ECAC 6-0 and Denver held off Western Michigan of the CCHA 3-2 in double overtime.

Four second-period goals propelled North Dakota with scores from Brad Malone, Danny Kristo, Jason Gregoire and Corban Knight. The Sioux scored shorthanded and twice on power plays, leading RPI in shots 40-21. Matt Frattin (36) also scored. Aaron Dell is 29-6-2 and has six shutouts this season. The attendance was 4,297 at the Resch Center. The Grand Forks Herald has a recap here.

Denver trailed Western Michigan early in the third period and rallied with a Kyle Ostrow goal with 4:29 left in regulation and a Matt Donovan goal with 2:36 remaining. Jason Zucker (22) scored at 11:14 of a second overtime to end the game after four hours in front of a crowd of 4,355. It was a second straight double-OT game for the Pioneers, who lost to North Dakota in the WCHA playoff final. Denver led in shots 38-32.  The Denver Post has a story here.

At the West Regional in St. Louis, CCHA champion Michigan built a 2-0 lead and held off Colorado College 2-1. Scooter Vaughan and Lee Moffie scored in the first period for Michigan, which led in shots 43-22. CC’s Rylan Schwartz scored on a power play with 3:35 to play. Recaps from the Ann Arbor News here and the Colorado Springs Gazette here.

At the Northeast Regional in Manchester, N.H., with a crowd of 7,608, senior right winger Mike Sislo of Superior scored the winning goal as host school New Hampshire eliminated Miami of Ohio of the CCHA. Sislo 14 scored 39 seconds into the third period. No. 4-seed New Hampshire led 27-22 in shots. Miami was the No. 1 seed.

Merrimack led Notre Dame 2-0 and 3-1 early in the second period. Notre Dame rallied behind freshman left winger Anders Lee of Edina, Minn, who scored a goal in the second period and again at 5:18 of overtime for the Irish. Billy Maday also scored for Notre Dame, which led 37-35 in shots.

Of the four No. 1 regional seeds, three lost — Yale, Miami and Boston College. North Dakota is the fourth No. 1 seed.

Update: UMD 5, Yale 3

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Minnesota Duluth will carry the state banner into the 2011 NCAA Division I men’s hockey Frozen Four after taking down a second Eastern College Athletic Conference team in two days Saturday night.

The No. 9-ranked Bulldogs scored four second-period goals on the way to beating No. 1 Yale University of New Haven, Conn., 5-3 in the East Regional final before a crowd of 7,816 at Webster Bank Arena.

UMD (24-10-6) eliminated ECAC regular-season champion Union College 2-0 in Friday’s semifinals before eliminating ECAC playoff champion Yale (28-7-1), also the Bulldogs.

UMD’s top line led the way as Mike Connolly had a goal and three assists, Jack Connolly had a goal plus two assists, and Justin Fontaine had a goal and an assist. Defenseman Justin Faulk had two assists.

Yale had been No. 1 in the computerized PairWise rankings and in nearly every statistical offensive and defensive team category in Division I, and had won five straight games, allowing just one goal total the past four games.

“Statistically it says they are the best team of the regular season. This is the playoffs,” said junior winger Mike Connolly. “We’ve now reached one of our goals, to get to the Frozen Four, and we’d like to win two more games.”

UMD advances to the semifinals against the Northeast Regional winner April 7 at St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center.

The Bulldogs led 1-0 after one period and went up 5-1 after two, including three power-play goals in 3:41. Yale led in shots on goal, 33-26, but junior goalie Kenny Reiter was sharp for a second straight night and was named tournament MVP.

“Kenny was phenomenal. He made the first save and second save and third save. He made saves other teams don’t expect you to make,” junior center Jack Connolly said.

Yale started the season wearing shirts that read “Unfinished Business” on the back after failing to get out of regional play the past two years. Yale had the best season in school history this winter but was derailed by another hungry group of Bulldogs.

UMD lost in the 2009 West Regional final to Miami of Ohio 2-1 and then just missed being selected for the 2010 NCAA field of 16.

A second period gave UMD all the momentum it needed, finishing 3-of-9 on power plays for the game.

“It looked like Yale was getting frustrated with some of the calls,” UMD coach Scott Sandelin said. “It’s an emotional game, do or die, and we harped on not putting yourself in a position to take penalties.”

The game basically hinged on one sequence. Star right winger Brian O’Neill got Yale within 3-1 with 8:30 left in the second period. And eight seconds later he was called for a contact to the head major penalty against UMD center Jake Hendrickson. O’Neill was out for the rest of the game, and UMD scored 19 seconds into the major power-play from Mike Seidel, and then scored in a 5-on-3 power play 72 seconds later from Fontaine. The Bulldogs led by four goals after two periods.

“In hindsight, the game was over,” Yale coach Keith Allain said in referring to O’Neill’s penalty. “They gave us a five-minute major and took away our best forward.”

Mike Connolly’s short-handed goal with two minutes left in the first period gave UMD a lift for a 1-0 lead. Defenseman Wade Bergman increased the Bulldogs’ lead at 2:58 of the second period by taking a Jack Connolly draw and scoring from the left circle.

In the third period, Yale scored the only two goals, on power plays from Broc Little and Denny Kearney. By that time the top-ranked goalie in Division I, Yale senior Ryan Rondeau, was on the bench as sophomore Nick Maricic started the third period.

“We did what we wanted for most of the game, except for the penalties,” Little said.

Minnesota Duluth…. 1-4-0—5
Yale……………………… 0-1-2—3

First period — 1. UMD, Mike Connolly 27 (Justin Fontaine), 18:00 (sh) Penalties — Mike Matczak, Yale (high-sticking) 10:23; J.T. Brown, UMD (charging) 10:52; Justin Faulk, UMD (hooking) 11:08; Brady Lamb, UMD (hitting from behind) 16:24; Antoine Laganiere, Yale (holding) 18:56.

Second period — 2. UMD, Wade Bergman 3 (Jack Connolly), 2:58; 3. UMD, Jack Connolly 17 (Mike Connolly, Justin Faulk), 9:29 (pp); 4. Yale, Brian O’Neill 20 (Broc Little), 11:30 (pp); 5. UMD, Mike Seidel 8 (Mike Connolly, Jack Connolly), 11:58 (pp); 6. UMD, Justin Fontaine 22 (Mike Connolly, Justin Faulk), 13:10 (pp). Penalties — Colin Dueck, Yale (boarding) 0:42; Brian O’Neill, Yale (elbowing) 3:51; Chris Cahill, Yale (roughing the goalie) 9:07; Justin Faulk, UMD (interference) 10:36; Brian O’Neill, Yale (5-contact to the head) 11:38; Brian O’Neill, Yale (10-game misconduct) 11:38; Nick Jaskowiak, Yale (boarding) 12:18; Justin Faulk, UMD (hooking) 16:49; Kevin Peel, Yale (cross-checking) 18:45

Third period — 7. Yale, Broc Little 19 (Denny Kearney, Kevin Limbert), 8:28 (pp); 8. Yale, Denny Kearney 16 (Jimmy Martin, Broc Little), 13:05 (pp). Penalties — Jake Hendrickson, UMD (boarding) 2:01; Joe Basaraba, UMD (tripping) 8:12; Travis Oleksuk, UMD (tripping) 11:52

Shots on goal — UMD 6-15-5-26; Yale 14-10-9-33. Goalies — Kenny Reiter, UMD (59:56, 33 shots, 30 saves, 3 GA); Empty Net (0:04, 0 GA); Ryan Rondeau, Yale (39:55, 21 shots, 16 saves, 5 GA); Nick Maricic, Yale (19:15, 5 shots, 5 saves, 0 GA); Empty Net (0:50, 0 GA). Power plays – UMD 3 of 9; Yale 3 of 8. Penalties – UMD 8 (16 min); Yale 9 (29 min). Referees: Brian Hill, Brian Aaron Assistant Referees: T.J. Likens, Tony Molina.

East Regional All-Tournament Team

Forwards

Jack Connolly, Minnesota Duluth; Mike Connolly, Minnesota Duluth; Chad Ziegler, Yale

Defenseman

Justin Faulk, Minnesota Duluth; Nick Jaskowiak, Yale

Goaltender

Kenny Reiter, Minnesota Duluth

Most Outstanding Player

Reiter

Final: UMD 5, Yale 3

Rushing to make Minnesota Duluth’s charter flight back home folks….so all that is available for a story is below. Much more to follow Sunday afternoon and Monday.

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Minnesota Duluth took down a second Eastern College Athletic Conference team in two days tonight to advance to the NCAA Division I men’s Frozen Four for the first time since 2004.

The No. 9-ranked Bulldogs scored four second-period goals on the way to beating No. 1 Yale University of New Haven, Conn., 5-3 in the East Regional final before a crowd of 7,816 at Webster Bank Arena.

UMD (24-10-6) eliminated ECAC regular-season champion Union College 2-0 in the semifinals and then eliminated ECAC playoff champion Yale (28-7-1), also the Bulldogs.

UMD’s top line led the way as Mike Connolly had a goal and three assists, Jack Connolly had a goal plus two assists and Justin Fontaine had a goal and an assist. Justin Faulk had two assists.

UMD advances to the Division I semifinals against the Northeast Regional winner April 7 at St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center.

The Bulldogs led 1-0 after one period and went up 5-1 after two.

UMD goalie Kenny Reiter was named tournament MVP.

Saturday in the NCAAs

Surprises, controversy and just plain shockers were the talk of the first day of the NCAA tournament in St. Louis and Bridgeport, Conn.

Two of three WCHA teams, Minnesota Duluth and Colorado College, advanced to regional finals. A third, Nebraska Omaha, was ousted in a controversial finish.

In the East Regional in Bridgeport, No. 9-rated UMD  beat No. 8 Union College 2-0 and No. 1 Yale University beat No. 22 Air Force 2-1 in overtime. The title game is 5:30 p.m. CDT Saturday at ESPNU.

The News Tribune link to Saturday’s live game blog is here.

Chad Ziegler scored at 3:16 of overtime to give Yale a win over Air Force. The teams had exchanged second-period goals.

In the West Regional in St. Louis, No. 5 Michigan topped No. 12 Nebraska-Omaha 3-2 in overtime on a goal review and No. 13 Colorado College eliminated No. 3 Boston College, smacking the defending NCAA champion 8-4.

Michigan and Colorado College meet at 8 p.m. Saturday.

At St. Louis, Rich Purslow 13 and Alex Hudson 13 gave Omaha a 2-0 first-period lead. Louie Caporusso and Kevin Lynch tied it with second-period goals for Michigan. Then Lynch won it at 2:35 of OT, only after a stoppage of play and a video review, bringing back memories of the 2009 East Regional in Bridgeport when officials went back to look at a Dan Lawson shot that went through the net for Vermont. After a lengthy review, Vermont beat Air Force 3-2 in double OT.

Not the best video, but video of the goal is here.

Colorado College scored on three of four power plays and had two shorthanded goals in disposing of Boston College. The Tigers had four goals in the first period and three in the second. Freshman Jaden Schwartz scored twice. BC star goalie John Muse was on the bench after 34 minutes.

UMD radio voice Bruce Ciskie has a Bulldogs update here.

Recaps of the UMD-Union game from the New Haven Register here, U.S. College Hockey Online here, College Hockey News here and the Schenectady, N.Y., Gazette here and here.

Recaps of the Yale-Air Force game from the New Haven Register here, Colorado Springs Gazette here, College Hockey News here, U.S. College Hockey Online here.

Recaps of the Colorado College-Boston College game from Colorado Springs Gazette here, the Boston Globe here, College Hockey News here and U.S. College Hockey Online here.

Recaps of the Omaha-Michigan game from the Ann Arbor News here, U.S. College Hockey Online here, College Hockey News here and the Omaha World-Herald here.

In Saturday’s Midwest Regional in Green Bay, North Dakota meets Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at 12:30 p.m., and Denver plays Western Michigan at 4 p.m.

In the Mideast Regional in Manchester, N.H., Miami of Ohio plays New Hampshire at 3 p.m., and Notre Dame meets Merrimack at 6:30 p.m. The regional winner meets the East Regional winner in the Frozen Four semifinals April 7 in St. Paul.

Updated: UMD 2, Union College 0

On this post, a Minnesota Duluth-Union College game story, a Kenny Reiter sidebar and a Yale-Air Force recap, so keep reading:

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Minnesota Duluth prefers a skating game, but if grind-it-out is required, the Bulldogs will oblige.

No. 9-ranked UMD blocked 20 shots, won 33 face offs, stopped all nine power plays against the best Division I power-play team and got power-play goals from senior wingers Kyle Schmidt and Justin Fontaine. Junior goalie Kenny Reiter did his part in stopping all 32 shots he faced Friday afternoon.

That added up to a 2-0 win over No. 8 Union College of Schenectady, N.Y., in an NCAA East Regional men’s hockey semifinal game at Webster Bank Arena.

It was the opening game of the 16-team tournament and put the Bulldogs (23-10-6) into today’s 5:30 p.m. CDT title game against top-ranked Yale (28-6-1). Yale defeated Air Force 2-1 in overtime in the second semifinal game.

UMD is in a regional final for the second time in three years, while Union (26-10-4) was eliminated in its first NCAA playoff game since moving to Division I in 1991-92. The Bulldogs were eliminated by Miami of Ohio 2-1 in 2009 in the West Regional in Minneapolis.

“We had an opportunity to get to the Frozen Four two years ago which we let slip away. We’ve wanted another chance ever since and winning (Friday) was a huge character builder. This is goal we’ve had all season to get in a position to go to St. Paul (for the 2011 Frozen Four),” said Fontaine, who has 21 goals this season and 61 in four years at UMD.

Union College came into the tournament after setting single-season program statistical bests in almost every category, including win a first Eastern College Athletic Conference regular-season title, one point ahead of Yale. The Dutchmen had a power-play efficiency of 31.1 percent, easily the top mark in Division I. Union got a chance with an extra man immediately as UMD took a penalty 29 seconds into the game when the Hockey East referees called a penalty. UMD defused that one, and the rest, which created 17 power-play shots on goal.

Reiter and his penalty killers and shot blockers were superb. It was his third shutout of the season.

“We had some good opportunities and at no point did we lose confidence or think we were out of it,” said Union senior defenseman and captain Brock Matheson. “But we did lose a lot of one-on-one battles and their goalie was good. In the third period we were all feeling desperation.”

After stopping three opposing power play in the game’s first nine minutes, the Bulldogs got their first try. The puck went from Mike Seidel, to Mike Montgomery to Travis Oleksuk near the goal. Oleksuk tipped it to Schmidt and he tipped the puck past ECAC goalie of the year, 6-foot-3 Keith Kinkaid, who has a 1.98 goals-against average. Schmidt’s ninth goal of the season came with 5:22 left in a first period in which the Bulldogs were outshot 12-5. Shots on goal at one point favored Union 10-1.

After a scoreless second period, UMD had its best period of the game. Kinkaid turned away winger J.T. Brown at 4:37 of the third and the Bulldogs got another power play at 6:13 from one of the least-penalized teams in Division I. Shots by Brown and Justin Faulk yielded rebounds and Fontaine converted from the right circle, for his team-leading 11th power-play goal.

“We didn’t look at the shots on goal during the game, but we didn’t feel like we were getting outplayed by any means,” said Schmidt. “We thought (the penalty situation) would eventually come back our way. Our plan was to stay in our lanes defensively, not allow any Grade A chances, and make the best of the chances we got.”

The lack of power-play success wore on the Dutchmen, who ended the season with three straight losses, including two to Colgate at home March 12-13 in the ECAC playoff quarterfinals. Union, a private school of 2,130 located 200 miles away and which offers no athletic scholarships, had the majority of the crowd on its side. Yet, they had little to cheer. Union did lead in final shots 32-28.

“When (UMD) gets on a rush, their eyes light up. They want an up-and-down-the-ice game,” said Union coach Nate Leaman, whose team was 2-2 against WCHA members this season. “I didn’t anticipate a specialty teams game, but that’s what happened. They are one of the better face off teams we’ve faced. We looked a little young out there at times.”

UMD finished fourth in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and, after a first-round league home sweep of St. Cloud State, was beaten 3-2 in overtime by Bemidji State in the Final Five quarterfinals March 17. This week at practice, coach Scott Sandelin worked the Bulldogs on penalty killing and, in the second period, moved the players of his top power-play unit to different spots, which yielded a goal. UMD also killed the game’s final 79 seconds after Kinkaid was pulled.

“There wasn’t much flow to the game because of penalties, although in the third period, after we scored, we had some offensive zone pressure. It was kind of a grind-it-out game,” said Sandelin. “I know people were talking about the power plays of the other teams in our region, and if you look at the statistics, I know why. But our power play has been effective the last two or three years and tonight it made the difference in the game.”

KENNY REITER

BRIDGEPORT, Conn — Fresh legs are a tell-tale sign Kenny Reiter uses as a gauge on game day. The Minnesota Duluth junior goalie said his legs felt particularly strong Friday afternoon to open the NCAA Division I men’s hockey tournament against Union College in the East Regional semifinals.

Fans at Webster Bank Arena would agree. He was on his game, stopping all 32 shots in a 2-0 victory to send No. 9-ranked UMD to today’s regional title game at 5:30 p.m. CDT against top-ranked Yale (28-6-1).

Reiter needed to be particularly sharp in the game’s opening minutes as No. 8 Union of Schenectady, N.Y., went on its first power play 29 seconds into the first period, with two more to follow in the first nine minutes. Shots on goal favored Union 10-1 through 12 minutes.

“I saw a lot of shots early and I used those to get into the game. That really, really helped calm my nerves and my legs felt really good,” said Reiter, who has started seven straight games and has three shutouts this season. “The magnitude of the game had me ready.”

First-line center Jeremy Welsh, Union’s No. 2 scorer, had an excellent power-play chance early, and was stopped by Reiter. Nine opposing power plays in all, producing 17 shots, were stopped. Penalty killing aided UMD’s defense.

In a game which became choppy because of 17 penalties, UMD stayed the course and eliminated the regular-season Eastern College Athletic Conference champion. Union had a Division I-leading 31.1 percent power-play efficiency rating entering the game.

“We went in with a penalty-kill plan that would force (Union) to dump the puck and that often allowed us to get control of the puck,” said UMD coach Scott Sandelin. “Kenny was good, and then some.”

Despite being outshot, UMD went up 1-0 after one period on a Kyle Schmidt power-play goal and led 2-0 in the first seven minutes of the third period on a Justin Fontaine power-play goal. The Bulldogs were 2-of-8 and Union 0-of-9.

Union was No. 2 defensively in Division I, allowing 2.10 goals a game, and No. 5 offensively, scoring 3.69. But UMD shook off early penalties and earned its first shutout since a 3-0 win at Michigan Tech on Jan. 22. Reiter, from Pittsburgh, the team’s lone East Coast representative, was named the game’s No. 1 star.

“He was phenomenal. Even the shots he didn’t see were hitting him,” said Schmidt.

With 7:40 left in the game, and with Union on another power play, Reiter made a stop and tweaked a hip muscle. He was looked at on the ice by trainer by Suz Hoppe and stayed in the game. He has six career shutouts and is 26-17-5 the last two years.

“If you look at the fact that we had 20 blocked shots, that’s awesome from my viewpoint, from guys like (defensemen Wade) Beregman and (Brady) Lamb. Bergman is like a sponge on penalty killing, soaking up the shots,” said Reiter.

YALE-AIR FORCE

Top-ranked Yale University got a goal from junior right winger Chad Ziegler 3:16 into overtime Friday night to beat No. 22 Air Force 2-1 in an East Regional semifinal before 7,671 fans at Webster Bank Arena.

Yale (28-6-1) faces No. 9 UMD (23-10-6) for the regional title at 5:30 p.m. CDT Saturday.

The teams exchanged second period goals — Yale winger Brian O’Neill scored at 7:28 for his team-leading 19th goal of the season and Air Force center Sean Bertsch, son of former Colorado College player and coach, Mike Bertsch, tied it with 86 seconds left in the second.

Yale, the host school from New Haven, Conn., led in shots on goal 28-23. Yale senior goalie Ryan Rondeau, ranked No. 1 in Division I with a 1.80 goals-against average, made 22 saves, while freshman Jason Torf was in goal for Air Force.

Eastern College Athletic Conference playoff champion Yale has won five straight games, three by shutout margins. Air Force, the Atlantic Hockey Association playoff champion, had an eight-game win streak broken.

Yale had lost to Air Force 4-3 on Nov. 14 in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Minnesota Duluth……………. 1-0-1—2

Union College………………….. 0-0-0—0

First period — 1. UMD, Kyle Schmidt 9 (Mike Montgomery, Mike Seidel), 14:38 (pp). Penalties — Mike Connolly, UMD (hitting after whistle), :29; Kyle Schmidt, UMD (interference), 6:07; Trent Palm, UMD (hooking), 9:07; Andrew Buote, Union (cross-checking), 13:04; Brady Lamb, UMD (hitting after whistle), 15:48; Jeremy Welsh, Union (slashing), 19:43.

Second period — No scoring. Penalties — Justin Faulk, UMD (tripping), 1:06; Wayne Simpson, Union (slashing), 5:11; Jack Connolly, UMD (interference), 7:16; Nolan Julseth-White, Union (interference), 9:39; Justin Pallos, Union (interference), 16:28; J.T. Brown, UMD (hooking), 18:19.

Third period — 2. UMD, Justin Fontaine 21 (Faulk, Brown), 6:24. Penalties — Greg Coburn, Union (hitting from behind), 6:13; Palm, UMD (hitting from behind), 11:46; Kelly Zajac, Union (hooking), 12:49; Shawn Stuart, Union (hooking), 14:07; Lamb, UMD (tripping), 16:28.

Shots on goal — UMD 5-7-16—28; Union 12-9-11—32. Goalies — Kenny Reiter (13-7-5), UMD (32 shots-32 saves); Keith Kinkaid (25-10-3), Union (28 shots-26 saves). Power plays — UMD 2-of-8, Union 0-of-9. Referees — Scott Hansen, Tim Benedetto. Linesmen — Chris Milee, Brendan Kelleher. A — 7,671 (both games).

Final: UMD 2, Union College 0

A full story to follow:

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Senior wingers Kyle Schmidt and Justin Fontaine scored power-play goals, and junior goalie Kenny Reiter made 32 saves Friday afternoon as No. 9-ranked Minnesota Duluth defeated No. 8 Union College of Schenectady, N.Y., 2-0 in an NCAA Division I East Regional semifinal men’s hockey playoff game at Webster Bank Arena.

The Bulldogs (23-10-6) advance to Saturday’s East Regional final against top-seed Yale or Air Force, which met in the other semifinal Game. UMD is in a regional final for the second time in three years.

Schmidt scored on a power play with 5:22 left in the first period and Fontaine connected at 6:24 of the third period. Reiter kept his team in the game with 12 saves in the first period in facing four Union power plays.

Union (26-10-4), in its first NCAA appearance, outshot UMD 32-28, although the Bulldogs had a 23-20 advantage the final two periods.

The Dutchmen were shutout for the first time since a 5-0 loss at Yale on Dec. 5 and finished the season with three straight losses, including two at home against Colgate in the Eastern College Athletic Conference playoff quarterfinals March 12-13. Union won the ECAC regular-season title with Yale a point behind.
UMD’s career mark versus Union is 7-0-1, although the schools hadn’t met since November of 2003 in Schenectady.

East Regional: UMD vs. Union opens NCAA play

The 2011 NCAA Division I tournament opens Friday with the first games of the 16-team event starting in the East Regional in Bridgeport, Conn. Sports fans in the Nutmeg State may still be celebrating Thursday’s Connecticut basketball win over San Diego State as hockey takes center stage at Webster Bank Arena.

No. 9 Minnesota Duluth and No. 8 Union College of Schenectady, N.Y., meet at 2 p.m. CDT, followed by No. 1 Yale University of New Haven, Conn., against No. 22 U.S. Air Force Academy of Colorado Springs, Colo., at 5:30 p.m.

The games are televised live on ESPNU.

Inside College Hockey provides a TV guide for the entire tournament here.

The News Tribune will have a live blog for UMD’s game at a link here.

The News Tribune has a look at UMD’s top-scoring line in a story here.

There is also a Northland connection with Union assistant coach Ben Barr in a story here.

And some pregame notes here.

UMD play-by-play voice Bruce Ciskie of Red Rock Radio takes a look at UMD’s season and previews the Union match up here.

The Schenectady (N.Y.) Gazette previews Union’s first NCAA trip in a Friday story here.

The New Haven Register looks back on a regular-season meeting between Yale and Air Force here.

And the New Haven Register previews the top players in the East Regional here.

The Colorado Springs Gazette talks about Air Force’s chances against Yale in a story here and talks about Colorado College’s chances against defending NCAA champion Boston College in the West Regional in St. Louis, which also opens Friday, here.

Nebraska-Omaha and coach Dean Blais open the West Regional with a game against Michigan. The Omaha World-Herald has a preview here.

North Dakota and Denver, the top two teams in the WCHA in the regular season and Final Five, are in the Midwest Regional opening Saturday in Green Bay, Wis. The Grand Forks Herald has an update on North Dakota here.

The Denver Post has a pointed story about injured senior Jesse Martin and his feelings about North Dakota concerning his injury incident against the Sioux in October. That story is here.

U.S. College Hockey Online has an East Regional preview here.

College Hockey News has an East Regional preview here.

Complete NCAA brackets and updates available from the NCAA here.

At the Bridgeport rink

Minnesota Duluth was the first team to practice Thursday at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn. The Bulldogs were on the ice for an hour starting at 11:30 a.m. followed by a press conference with media members covering the NCAA East Regional.

Union College of Schenectady, N.Y., which meets UMD at 2 p.m. in Friday’s semifinals, had the ice at 12:45 p.m. The Air Force Academy and top seed Yale had later practice times.

The rink is home to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League, an affiliate of the New York Islanders.

UMD’s players said the ice was not super great, but conditions will likely be more optimal Friday. Organizers say most of the 8,500 seats for the East Regional are sold, yet the UMD-Union game may be lightly attended because of the time of day — going up against rush hour in Bridgeport.

Yale, the host school from nearby New Haven, Conn., and Air Force are expected to have a much larger crowd for a 5:30 p.m. game.

U.S. College Hockey Online also reviewed the day at the rink in Bridgeport here.

Some excellent college hockey talk on a podcast here from the Schenectady, N.Y., Daily Gazette here.

Temperatures are in the 30s on a sunny day in Bridgeport.

UMD is reporting no injuries and will be at full strength to start the NCAA tournament.

The News Tribune caught up with UMD equipment manager Chris Garner and provides an update on his health following a bone marrow transplant last August. The story is here.

Six-foot-3 Union sophomore Keith Kinkaid, the goalie of the year in the Eastern College Athletic Conference,  is profiled in the Schenectady Gazette here.

The other Bulldogs, the top-seeded Yale Bulldogs, are featured in the New Haven Register. Last season, in the Northeast Regional in Worcester, Mass., Yale eliminated North Dakota 3-2 in the semifinals before losing to eventual NCAA champion Boston College 9-7 in the regional final. That story is here.

The New Haven Register also looks at Atlantic Hockey champion Air Force here.

The Colorado Springs Gazette looks at Colorado College in preparing to meet Boston College on Friday in the first round of the West Regional in St. Louis here.

In the same regional, Nebraska-Omaha faces Michigan. The Omaha World-Herald has a story here.

The Ann Arbor News has a story on the Wolverines here.

WCHA champion North Dakota and runner up Denver are in the Midwest Regional, starting Saturday in Green Bay, Wis. The Grand Forks Herald has an update on the Sioux here and the Denver Post has an update on the Pioneers here.

Also the Fargo (N.D.) Forum is reporting a renewed interest in a Division I varsity program at Minnesota State Moorhead, with the hope of one day being part of the WCHA — especially in light of the league losing Minnesota and Wisconsin in two years to a Big Ten Conference league. That story is here.

Also the Lansing (Mich.) State Journal has a story about new Michigan State coach Tom Anastos, formerly the commissioner of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, here.

Also, the Bemidji Pioneer talks about the signing of senior All-American center Matt Read, with the Philadelphia Flyers, here.

Photographer Brett Groehler provides this image from Thursday’s practice. Justin Faulk (right) smacks the puck while stretching, while Max Tardy looks on.

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UMD roadtrip

Minnesota Duluth practiced Wednesday morning at Amsoil Arena and then started a 1,300-mile journey to Connecticut, a first for the Bulldogs since a 1980 holiday tournament in Hartford, Conn. UMD left Duluth on a 2:30 p.m. charter flight, arrived in New Haven, Conn., about 5:45 p.m., bused 25 minutes to Bridgeport to drop off its gear at Webster Bank Arena, and ended at its hotel at 7:30 p.m. in Shelton.

On time, uneventful and something like home with snow and a temperatures in the 30s. Union College bused 200 miles from Schenectady, N.Y., and was at the rink at the same time as UMD.

The Bulldogs will be back at the Webster Bank Arena at 10:15 a.m. Thursday for a half-hour meeting with an ESPN crew, followed by practice at 11:30 a.m. and a press conference at 12:45 p.m. The East Regional games on ESPNU will be handled by Barry Melrose and Clay Matvick.

The NCAA East Regional opens at 2 p.m. Friday with UMD versus Union.

Bridgeport is a city of about 145,000 along Long Island Sound at the mouth of the Pequonnock River. It was settled between 1639 and 1665 and chartered as a city in 1836. The top employers are two medical centers.